Thursday, February 05, 2009

We Need a Change on the School Board!

The Democrats control the Cincinnati Public School Board of Education. The Board consists of seven people who all endorsed President Obama in 2008. What they must not have endorsed is his call for transparency in government.

The School Board has devised a scam whereby applicants for the highly paid position of superintendent will send their resume and application to a P.O. Box instead of to the Board. Then, the P.O. Box will go unchecked (or so they allege) until mid-March when a panel will quickly review all the candidates at once and then pick a candidate within a week. The School Board has devised this scam to keep the public from seeing who the applicants are and to avoid a public records request from local media. The scam is ridiculous and illegal.

When asked about this situation, Democrat Board President Eileen Cooper Reed said, "If we don't have them, then nobody has them." President Reed is an attorney and ought to know better. You have them when you have control of that P.O. Box and this game violates the spirit of the Ohio Open Records law and denies the public its rightful access to this information.

Ohio law says, very plainly, that the citizens have a right to see employment applications and resumes for public positions. The Ohio Sunshine Law Handbook states: "Resumes submitted for public employment are unquestionably available for public disclosure. (click here to see the law, p. 88)

I understand the School Board will ultimately release this information, but this scheme they are proposing has another surprise. The public may ultimately have to pay the attorney's fees for the attorney who sues to force the School Board to comply with the law. That's right, the taxpayers will be made to pay the legal fees of the lawyers who sue the Board if the Board is not complying with the law.

The Ohio Sunshine Law Handbook also says, "If the court issues an injunction (i.e., if the public body loses), the court shall order the public body to pay all court costs. In addition, the court shall also order the public body to pay the filing party its reasonable attorney fees." The word "shall" is unambiguous and, when the School Board loses, your tax dollars shall be used to pay the winning lawyer.

We need a change on our School Board and I look forward to supporting smart, common sense, candidates to improve the quality of education in this great city and to be better stewards of our precious tax dollars.